Series Review – Clannad

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Kyoto Animation

The show I am reviewing today is mostly lauded for its follow-up.  I haven’t watched Clannad: After Story yet, so this review will solely by about the first anime season.  Clannad started out as a typical harem series, but surprisingly turned emotional at various points.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The series stars Tomoya, a delinquent high school student.  One day, on his way to school he meets a girl named Nagisa.  From there, he quickly becomes acquainted with a variety of other girls that attend his high school.  After his meeting with Nagisa, he learns that she is repeating her last year of high school due to her absences caused by illness.  Nagisa desires to join the drama club, but since her absence, the club has disbanded.  Despite his delinquent nature, Tomoya decides to assist Nagisa in reforming the drama club.

Many of the initial storylines start with Tomoya seeking to recruit members for the drama club, but this initial premise quickly falls by the wayside for almost every story arc that does not feature Nagisa.  Instead, the story largely focuses on the other female characters.  The sequel Clannad: After Story is usually touted as the emotional powerhouse of the series, but I was surprised at how ridiculously emotional this simple harem series was.  Various storylines bring out intense emotion is often surprising ways.  For instance, Tomoya’s inability to play basketball has a dark past to it.  The same can also be said for a girl in the school that loves to give out wooden starfish.  Every story arc has a significant amount of emotion and the series can be a rough watch at times because of it.  Given my feelings regarding this series, I cannot imagine how I will survive After Story.  While there is a lot of drama, it is fair to say that the show can be very comedic at times.  The comedy is largely based early on in each story arc, but is inserted in intervals.

As for the characters, Clannad is filled with a significant amount of great characters.  Tomoya is an interesting main protagonist.  Despite being a delinquent, he is one of the most helpful characters in the series.  While they are mostly used for comic relief, Nagisa’s parents even have a shocking amount of backstory to them.  Every character is similarly layered.  At first they exhibit some generic trait, but as the story arcs develop, the inner facets of the characters are put onto display.  Everyone has some sort of emotional trauma from a past event, and the series does an excellent job at using this past trauma in conjunction with present story arcs.

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Animation and Sound

The first aspect of the animation that is sure to raise some eyebrows is the character design.  For the male characters, the design is mostly normal.  However, the female characters have absolutely gigantic eyes.  This design choice has put off a lot of potential viewers and it is what prevented me from watching this series sooner.  I ended up getting used to the design and it actually grew on me.  So despite the gigantic bug eyes, give this series a chance.  As for the rest of the animation, there really isn’t anything that I would describe as special, it’s just solid.  There also isn’t anything too interesting about the setting as it mostly takes place at a high school which is an anime staple by this point.  It’s a solid level of quality though and there is nothing about the animation that I would consider to be detrimental.

The sound design for this series is solid as well.  Clannad: After Story supposedly has a standout musical track.  However, for this series, I did not notice any piece of music that really stood out to me.  The music is appropriate for the emotional scenes and does provide the necessary addition to makes these scenes even better.  The real strength of Clannad lies with the voice acting.  I love the performances of all the characters.  Tomoya has that perfect mix of humor and caring.  The voice actors for Nagisa’s parents turn in some excellent comedic performances.  The comedic timing is perfect in every scene that they are in.  Overall, the animation and sound design for this series is solid.

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Final Thoughts

I went into this show thinking it was just the necessary prerequisite in order to watch the greatness that is Clannad: After Story.  I was surprised to find a show that was highly emotional.  This was supposed to be the series that did not tug on the heartstrings.  I wasn’t supposed to cry until After Story, but that’s not what happened in the end.  I was brought to tears a few times in my watching of this series.  I give Clannad my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  I don’t know how I’ll survive the next one when I get to it, but there will definitely be a review of the sequel when my heart recovers from watching it.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

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Movie Review – Kizumonogatari: Part 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Shaft

The second movie of the ongoing Kizumonogatari adaptation was just released on home video in Japan which means that it is time to look at this one as well.  I have already covered the first movie in a previous review, which I recommend checking out.  Like the first review, there will be no rating attached to this review as this is merely one fraction of a story that spans three films.  With that said, I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

This movie picks up immediately after the events of the first one.  Araragi is now a vampire and has been tasked with recovering Kiss-Shot’s stolen body parts from a trio of vampire hunters.  The mysterious Oshino managed to work out a deal with the hunters in which each member will challenge Araragi to a solo duel.

The film mostly features the first two duels and ends relatively soon after the third one commences.  Unlike the first film, this one hits the ground running.  The basic plot setup was accomplished primarily in the first film, often with little dialogue.  Here, the strengths of the Monogatari series are shown in full force.  Hanekawa and Araragi have a plethora of more scenes that feature the same word play and conversation that characterizes this series.  This is the foundation for the pair’s later friendship in the rest of the series.

The vampire fights are the main draw here though as they take up the majority of the movie.  Araragi has a couple of fights that defy the senses with how brutal they are.  They also manage to expertly explore the extent of Araragi’s new powers as a vampire.  As the second film in the trilogy, the movie ends on a noticeable cliffhanger, but this is not an issue.  The adaptation is flawless and I cannot wait to watch the third movie.

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Animation and Sound Design

Nothing about this animation is different from the first movie.  The unreal animation quality is continued to be displayed here, albeit in a more interesting manner.  The first movie, while gorgeous, lacked action scenes to showcase what Shaft was really capable of animating.  The duels between Araragi and the vampire hunters are absolute masterpieces of animation.  Between the showcased brutality, the fluid movement, and the overall direction, these scenes are the best showcase of animation that I have seen since the last movie.  This movie could be watched solely for the animation alone.

I really do not have anything to say about the sound design, other than that it is great.  The high quality voice acting that the series is known for is finally given a chance to shine in this movie.  The sound design of the action scenes gives these scenes the necessary weight and impact.  I also highly enjoyed the music used as well.  It perfectly shifted between the light-hearted and more intense tones.

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Final Thoughts

Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu is the second part of what is likely to be considered to be a masterpiece.  The movie is excellent in every way, just like the first film.  The final part cannot come soon enough.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Series Review – Yuri on Ice

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Mappa

If you told me at the beginning of the year, that I would be watching an anime about figure skating, I would not believe you.  My biggest regret of the year was not checking this show out until it finished airing.  Despite all the shows I was watching during the fall season, I somehow missed this masterpiece.  Of course, I am talking about Yuri on Ice.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The story focuses on a figure skater named Yuri who begins to question his professional skating ability.  In the last year, Yuri put on a terrible performance in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating and a variety of other local competitions.  Yuri returns to his hometown to rest and he decides to visit his childhood friend.  He perfectly mimics a routine performed by the famous Russian figure skater named Victor Nikiforov, who is Yuri’s idol.  This performance is secretly recorded and uploaded to the internet which attracts Victor’s attention.  Victor then travels to Japan and offers to coach Yuri, with the aim of helping Yuri win the next Grand Prix.

First and foremost, this is a sports anime, which brings some typical plot elements.  However, the story excels with its focus on the Japanese Yuri and Victor.  Both of these characters are the main focus of the series, and they are developed perfectly.  Yuri is rather tepid and a nervous wreck.  Despite being great at figure skating, he often collapses when the pressure gets to him.  He’s always questioning his ability despite everyone being extremely supportive of him.  His character arc of the series involves him overcoming his anxiety and this is a thrilling plot point.  The audience is rooting for Yuri every step of the way.  As for Victor, his story arc develops quite differently.  As the number one skater for years, Victor actually began to lose his passion for ice skating.  When he saw Yuri’s mimicked routine, this brought back the passion so much that he gave up competing for a year to be a coach and to help Yuri improve himself.

This of course leads to one of the most naturally developing relationships in anime.  Yuri and Victor’s relationship comes across as genuine.  It can be easy to solely focus on how it’s a depiction of a same-sex relationship, which is rare for the anime medium.  However, it does not fall into the same traps as other anime would employ.  The relationship is real and not just physical.  Yuri and Victor complement each other well and each of them grows as a result of the relationship with each other.  It’s actually really endearing.  Ice skating is just a means by which the characters express emotion and it’s a back drop for studying Yuri and Victor’s character.  This relationship drives this show.  It’s not the main focus, but it’s perfectly mixed with the other plot points to create a truly masterful story.

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Animation and Sound

Let’s start off with something easier to talk about.  The animation outside of the figure skating scenes is solid.  The backgrounds manage to be diverse and interesting.  The characters are also animated very well and exhibit a large range of emotion.  The figure skating can be a mixed bag at times.  Some scenes perfectly showcase the ability of animation to create beautiful moments.  The opening alone is a perfect example.  I would also say the animation is beautiful in any figure skating scene with either Yuri.  Some of the scenes though lack this quality.  This is usually present in the skating sequences of the other professional skaters.  It’s noticeable and does take me out of the moment, but I would not say it dampers the quality of the show.

The series shines with its music collection.  The opening is godlike.  It was definitely the best one of the season.  The series also has an excellent selection of music used in the figure skating programs.  These pieces exhibit all sorts of emotions ranging from innocent love to self-idolization.  Each piece perfectly matches the skater.  JJ has the catchiest and most self-serving theme.  Chris has a piece that exudes with sexual energy.  These pieces of music go perfectly with the skating scenes even if the animation is weak.  It’s for this reason that the weaker animation for certain scenes is not an issue, as the overall sum is excellent.  The voice acting is also great.  I love how confident and loving Victor comes across with his performance.  I also love the hesitant and scared performance of Yuri towards the beginning of the series.  Everything about this show comes together to form the complete package.

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Final Thoughts

Yuri on Ice is one of the best shows of the year.  At its core, it’s a simple story about a man finding his self-confidence with some help.  The relationship between Yuri and Victor is one of the most genuine and endearing relationships in anime.  The animation can be weak at times, but certain scenes are freaking gorgeous.  The voice acting and music are great.  Yuri on Ice was my surprise of the season.  I give Yuri on Ice my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Series Review – Girlish Number

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Diomedéa

It is inherently interesting to view a series that goes into the making of anime.  Shirobako remains the golden standard for an anime about making anime.  Girlish Number initially starts out in a similar vein, but quickly becomes a character centric piece.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The story features Chitose Karasuma, an aspiring voice actress that has recently begun working in the anime industry.  Despite strongly believing in her talent, she mostly has been voicing minor characters.  However, she gets her big break when an opportunity arises for her to become an idol voice actress in an upcoming anime adaptation of a popular light novel series.

Girlish Number initially starts out as a very tongue-in-cheek look at the pitfalls of the anime industry, most notably the commercialization of the voice actors and the treatment of light novel authors.  This early tone is where the inherent strength of the series lies.  The early episodes that chronicle Chitose’s foray into being a lead and an idol proved an interesting look into the industry.  However, the show quickly turns away from looking at the industry and simply looks at the characters themselves.  This is definitely where the show gets weaker.  There was some real heart to the earlier episodes, but then it simply devolved into a rather generic show about a cast of cute characters.  That is not to say that the latter half is bad, it’s merely disappointing compared to the start.

The character Chitose is the driving force of the series.  Scenes without Chitose are not as interesting.  There is even an episode that does not focus on the character and it is definitely the weakest episode.  Chitose is great because she is an atypical protagonist.  She has a rotten personality that is filled with self-confidence that seems to arise from nowhere.  Of course, the series places a large emphasis on giving Chitose a wake-up call.  The second half of the series mostly focuses on Chitose coming to terms with her lack of worth ethic and lack of talent.  While not as good as the industry related stuff at the beginning, it’s a solid character arc.  Overall, the story for this series is a mixed bag, but features a strong protagonist.

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Animation and Sound Design

Certain sequences of Girlish Number feature outstanding moments of animation.  The series starts off with a great musical number that really sets the tone of the series.  After that sequence though, the animation is mostly average.  The aesthetic is bright to match the mostly comedic moments.  The largest strength is with the character design.  All of the characters possess striking designs that I loved.  From Chitose’s egg white sweater, to Momoka’s cute, but refined attire, the design of the characters does not disappoint.  It’s a shame that the rest of the animation is rather average.

However, the sound design does not disappoint.  The main plot point of this series is all about voice acting, so it makes sense that the voice acting is very well done.  My personal favorite scenes involve hearing how awful Chitose’s acting is.  Her actual voice actor captures this awful style of acting to perfection.  In regards to Chitose herself, the voice actress also has a masterful performance.  Chitose’s laugh, self-confidence and even lack of confidence all come across perfectly.  As for the music, it’s mostly solid.  The standout tracks are the idol performances of the group.  My personal favorite display is in the first episode which I mentioned earlier.  Overall, there are some strengths with the animation and sound design, but it’s mostly average.

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Final Thoughts

Girlish Number is an entertaining show, but it’s not special.  There are strengths, but the series is mostly average.  I give Girlish Number my Watch rating.  I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out, just know that it’s not amazing.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this piece out.

Watch Rating

Series Review – Izetta: The Last Witch

Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Ajia-do Animation Works

I’ve already mentioned in past reviews that I am a sucker for any period pieces.  World War II is one of my favorite periods to explore in any medium.  The show I am reviewing today takes place in a fictional world heavily inspired by the events of WWII, but with a magical twist.  Of course, I’m talking about Izetta: The Last Witch.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The story starts with the Germanian empire, this world’s Nazi Germany, conquering the entire continent.  In order to have a better route, the Germanians seek to control the small country of Elystadt. Elystadt is ruled by a monarch that is loved by the people.  However, during peace talks, Princess Finé is kidnapped by the Germanians.  On this same plane, the Germanians are transporting a witch named Izetta, who happens to be a figure from Princess Finé’s past.  The pair manages to escape and Izetta vows to protect Elystadt from the Germanians.

Despite the presence of magic, this anime is mostly focused about war efforts.  The series places a significant amount of time on dealing with a wide variety of issues ranging from dealing with refugees to acts of espionage.  Izetta and the overall magical presence merely serve to aid in this total war effort.  While the use of magic was entertaining, I actually enjoyed the more subdued moments immensely.  For instance, a couple of episodes focus on the topic of propaganda and how to present Izetta to the rest of the world.  I also enjoyed the moments of espionage that saw agents going undercover to deal with foreign spies.  Details like this give the series a more weighted feel.  It was not only about the magical elements, but about the fate of a war.

The strength of the story is bolstered by the great cast of characters.  Princess Finé is one of the most impressive female leads in recent memory.  She is kind and caring, but also tough when the situation calls for it.  She is actually a great leader and is more than willing to put herself in danger for her kingdom.  For example, in the first episode alone, she resists every effort of Germania to kidnap her.  Finé never stops fighting even when the situation is at its most dire.  I also loved Izetta’s character.  She actually has a lot of doubts about her ability to protect Elystadt, but will do anything for the kingdom.  Izetta is also conflicted about using her powers for war, but her love of Finé triumphs all of this.  Speaking of love, there is an actually hint of a relationship here between Izetta and Finé.  It’s not just yuri-baiting like in Sound Euphonium; it goes a little bit deeper.  It was really refreshing because it felt genuine based on the interactions and history between Izetta and Finé.  Overall, this series had a solid story with a great cast of characters.

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Animation and Sound Design

Izetta: The Last Witch features a surprisingly high quality of action animation.  It is an absolute treat to watch a scene in which Izetta fights with her magical powers.  The animation captures the aerial dogfights to perfection.  It’s so great that it manages to overcome the absurdity that Izetta uses a sniper rifle as her witches’ broom.  The first major sequence that showcases Izetta’s powers gives a great example of how the action animation is.  Izetta sweeps across the battlefield with enchanted objects, taking out tanks and infantry.  It was and still is highly impressive to watch.

Outside of the action, the animation can look a bit mediocre.  However, it is saved by the excellent stylistic design of the characters and the environments.  The country of Elystadt is breathtaking to behold.  The animation really brings the bright cities and the countryside to life.  The characters also possess striking designs.  Princess Finé comes across as royal in any one of her outfits.  Izetta’s red mages outfit is also one of my favorite designs of the season.  The red outfit is a stereotypical witches outfit, but with a regal flair to it.

The sound design is of a similar quality as the animation.  There are high points, but for the most part it is fairly average.  The sounds of the machine guns, planes, and bombs are excellent.  In fact, the audio is great during any of the larger action scenes.  The opening song is actually quite good as well.  I also really enjoyed the use of choir-like music for the more fantastical and heartfelt moments.  Besides these moments though, the music didn’t really catch me.  The voice acting was excellent.  Princess Finé comes across as a proper, but loving monarch would.  The voice actors for the more clandestine characters also possess that mysterious edge as well. The presentation and sound design of this series has excellent moments, but has a lot of mediocrity too.

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Final Thoughts

Izetta: The Last Witch is a solid show with very some exquisite high points.  The main issue is that the series was fairly average during every other time.  However, the story is very strong and has a great cast of characters.  I believe this can carry the weaker points of the animation and sound design.  I give Izetta: The Last Witch my Watch rating.  It’s highly entertaining and worth the watch.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Watch Rating

 

Series Review – Sound Euphonium Season 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Kyoto Animation

Second season reviews are kind of awkward to write.  Generally, the pros of the first season remain mostly the same and the cons are usually worked on.  As a result, a second season can feel very similar to the first, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  With that said, it’s time to check out the second season of Sound Euphonium.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The second season features the same likeable high school band as they compete to win a spot in the national competition.  Everything that was great about the first season returns in some sort here.  The dynamic between Kumiko and Reina is just as great as the first season with the yuri-shippers having a field day as always.  I actually am tired of this ship though, due to the fandom’s tendency to cast hatred on poor Shuichi for even attempting to talk to Kumiko.  That aside, the relationship between the main characters is as solid as ever.  I also enjoyed the exploration into backgrounds of characters that were prominently featured in the first season.  The motivations of Taki-sensei are revealed in this season in a surprisingly emotional moment.

Much like the first season, the drama from this one little band manages to create some compelling story arcs.  The first arc involving a band member that quit last year is relatively weak though in comparison to the main plot threads of the season.  The biggest change is Kumiko’s direct involvement in the drama now.  Last season, she just happened to be in place as issues were resolved, but now she is actually the target of the drama.  Between the story arcs involving Kumiko’s sister and Asuka, Kumiko is actually impacted by all this drama.  Of course she still maintains her very blunt personality which is a plus, but her character manages to become more genuine as the season progresses.

I really don’t have much to say because this second season is just more of the same.  Given my love of the first season, that is not detrimental in any way whatsoever.  Chances are if you enjoyed the story of the first season, then this one will be highly enjoyable as well.

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Animation and Sound

The presentation and sound design for this series maintains its excellent quality.  The animation is flat out perfect.  The backgrounds are highly detailed and the moving animation of the characters is unreal.  It is a treat to watch the animation anytime the band plays.  The standout sequence of this season is the full band performance.  This scene was absolute perfection and was one of the best sequences of the entire year.  Of course, the series also maintains its astounding use of facial expression, showcasing the best cute girl animation of the season yet again.

The sound design is great for this series as well.  Like with the last season, a show about a concert band needs to have great sound design.  The characters play a great selection of music, especially during that band scene that I mentioned above.  The instruments still sound great and the sound design in the band scenes impresses yet again.  The voice acting also maintains its charm.  Again, the highlight is the performance of Kumiko’s voice actress.  There is just something so inherently real about the way Kumiko talks and the actress captures this sarcastic tone perfectly.  Given that Kumiko is actually the subject of some emotional scenes now, the voice actress needed to explore a new side of the character.  Thankfully, she managed to pull of these emotional scenes to perfection.

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Final Thoughts

The second season of Sound Euphonium is the perfect follow up.  The story brings the band drama, but the new focus on Kumiko directly makes it a lot stronger.  The animation and sound design is still amazing as well.  I give season 2 of Sound Euphonium my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Series Review – Kiss Him Not Me

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Brain’s Base

I was initially introduced to this series while I was perusing a Barnes and Noble with a friend.  Most of the time, we end up gravitating toward the manga section and checking out what’s on display there.  I initially found Kiss Him Not Me solely because of its ridiculous name.  At first glance, it looked like a trashy manga.  One Google search later, I found out that the anime would be premiering soon after this manga discovery.  I was surprised to find out that after watching the first episode, I was absolutely in love with the series.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

Kiss Him Not Me stars Kae Serinuma, a female otaku who loves reading yaoi material.  One day, her favorite anime character is killed off and she goes into shock.  A week later she finally emerges from her room and finds out that she has lost a lot of weight, becoming gorgeous in the eyes of her classmates.  On her first day back to school, she catches the eye of four of her classmates: Igarashi, Nanashima, Shinomiya and Mutsumi.  The series then turns into a reverse harem of sorts with each guy attempting to charm Serinuma and win her heart.

The series is an absolutely perfect comedy.  Much of the initial comedy comes from the boys learning about Serinuma’s otaku ways.  For instance, the first episode alone ends with Serinuma proudly proclaiming her love for her favorite anime character while carrying a body pillow with his image on it.  Serinuma is a proud otaku and it is hilarious to see how much the boys will put up with in order to get closer to her.  Another portion of the comedy also comes from the competition between the characters for Serinuma’s love.  The characters get in all kinds of wacky situations that end up turning competitive.  For instance, one episode features the characters going to a convention to assist Serinuma in acquiring all sorts of merchandise.  They end up being overshadowed by another character who seems to be the perfect match for Serinuma.  Another episode features a shipping war that could only be settled by a fan fiction competition.  The situations that the characters are placed in lend itself well for a variety comedic moments, a significant amount of which will please any fan of anime.

As for the characters themselves, the series boasts an impressive display of likeable characters.  Igarashi is relatively athletic with a good nature.  Nanashima is the classic tsundere with an adorable relationship with his younger sister.  Shinomiya is the youngest of the bunch, with an effeminate, but tsundere attitude.  Mutsumi AKA senpai is my personal favorite of the bunch.  He is obsessed with history and is the most genuinely nice character of the entire series.  Of course, there are a variety of other characters, some of which also attempt to woo Serinuma.  I won’t spoil these interactions, but the fourth episode introduces a new harem member that was absolutely genius in retrospect.  Overall, this series is a perfect comedy with an impressive batch of characters.

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Animation and Sound Design

The animation for this series carries a bright aesthetic.  As a comedy, this bright animation style perfectly fits the tone.  As for the actual movement, the animation quality is decent.  This is not a series that requires excellent animation though as it is solely focused on character interaction and not on displays of animation.  At certain points, the characters are heavily stylized in order to showcase character reactions.  These moments perfectly fit in with the series.

The strength in the animation lies with the character design.  Every character is unique, with a variety of outfits.  Each character also has their mannerisms perfectly captured by the animation.  My personal favorite examples of this involve any moment where Serinuma goes into an otaku reaction mode, usually when the guys are interacting with each other.

As for the sound design, the series features some impressive voice acting.  The main cast is perfectly captured by the voice actors.  Again, I like the use of two separate voices for Serinuma.  Her normal appearance has a very cute and girly voice while her otaku mode possesses a deeper tone.  Little details like this add significantly to the comedy of the series.  As for the music, nothing here stands out besides the opening.  I think Please Princess will be stuck in my head until the end of time.  Overall, the animation and sound design perfectly fit the tone of the series.

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Final Thoughts

I did not expect to fall in love with this series.  It ended up being a genuinely hilarious comedy with likeable characters.  Watching it as it aired ended up being my high point of every week.  I give Kiss Him Not Me my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  It was my favorite show of the season.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Series Review – Keijo!!!!!!!!

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Xebec

Anime can be used to tell stories that just cannot be captured by traditional filmmaking.  Serious stories about a variety of topics can be covered with this medium.  Given the amount of genres present, anime remains one of my favorites because literally anything can be told.  I used to have a line though with regards to certain series.  I avoided watching anything that could be considered to be overtly ecchi.  I maintained this standard for years, until I got bored one day.  To my disappointment, I crossed my line to watch the show that I am reviewing today.  The ridiculousness of Keijo caught my eye.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

Just to start out, the story for this series is rather typical for a sports anime.  The key difference lies with the sport itself.  Here, women play a sport known as Keijo.  Keijo matches are held on floating platforms where players wearing swimsuits fight to knock their opponents out.  Of course, they can only use their boobs and butts to hit each other.  This series is absolutely ridiculous in every manner and is fully devoted to showcasing copious amounts of fan service.  The basic story is relatively simple.  A young woman named Nozomi attends a Keijo training academy in order to become a pro.  Along the way, she makes friends and rivals.  This is not a serious anime, but the anime takes itself very seriously, which adds to the comedy.  Every character has a special technique that they use to great effect.  These techniques’ quickly become the focus of the show due to their absurdity.  One player uses her boobs to hypnotize the competition while another uses her ability for a technique that is an obvious reference to the Fate series.  It’s not Shakespeare, but what story is?  Overall, it’s stupid, but in a good way.

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Animation and Sound

Of course the animation of the Keijo matches is the real draw here.  The character’s…assets are drawn very well.  It’s trashy, but works with the absurdity of the show.  The choreography is actually quite solid too for this anime which was a surprise.  The special techniques are phenomenal to look at.  Everything else is pretty mediocre in terms of animation.

Sound design is similar to the animation in many respects.  The Keijo matches actually have great foley work.  The impacts of the hits have a great…weight to them, which is good considering what is used in this “sport.”  I found the music and voice acting to be fairly average though.

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Final Thoughts

This show represents everything that I was trying to avoid about anime between the blatant fan service and ridiculous premise.  I am embarrassed to say that I actually liked it.  The fights were entertaining and it was just so crazy that I couldn’t take it seriously.  I give Keijo my Watch rating.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Watch Rating

Series Review – Drifters

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Hood Drifters Studio

I am an avid fan of history which is one of the reasons why the Fate series interests me.  Some of the characters in Fate are mythical, but there are a significant amount based on actual historical figures.  When I heard of Drifters, I was excited to see a show that solely focused on the historical figures.  Drifters was the best action show of the season.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

The series opens with a battle in ancient Japan.  Shimazu Toyohisa is critically wounded, but is suddenly transported into a mysterious corridor.  A man wearing glasses waits at a desk and sends Toyohisa through a door into another world.  Toyohisa soon meets other warriors called Drifters from various eras that have also been sent to this world.  The Drifters soon hatch a plan to conquer a nearby kingdom, but are quickly drawn into a fight with another group of mysterious beings known as the Ends.  Led by the Black King, the Ends seek to annihilate the entire world.

Drifters features a wide cast of historical characters ranging from Hannibal Barca to Nobunaga.  Each one of these characters is interesting in their own way and each brings with them the mindset of the era in which they lived in.  For instance, Toyohisa was born in a rather war-torn period which means that his mind is almost entirely focused on winning wars.  The interaction between these historical figures is the driving force behind the show.  It is inherently interesting to see the skills and training each warrior can bring from their respective era.  Hannibal Barca brings his renowned tactical mind, while other characters like Butch Cassidy bring knowledge of the technology of their era.

Nobunaga is my favorite character of the bunch due to his devious nature.  He is responsible for a large portion of the comedy in this series.  Drifters at times can be very schizophrenic with its tone.  Certain scenes are very serious, but quickly lead into more hysterical moments.  Anyways, Nobunaga perfectly encapsulates what it would mean for a historical figure to have access to better technology.  Out of all the characters, he is the quickest to adapt to the changing situation and the only one to really appreciate the tactical advantages of this new situation.  It is thrilling to see Nobunaga use new technology to his advantage and this makes the larger action scenes a joy to watch.  The story is still ongoing at the end of the season, but with its mixture of comedy and action, the story of Drifters is highly entertaining.

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Animation and Sound Design

Drifters features an impressive display of animation.  The more comedic scenes have a stylized look about them that is rather plain, but really works with the lighter tone.  Of course, the main draw is the action.  The choreography of this show is nothing short of amazing.  Each character has their own fighting style and the fights are highly entertaining because of this.  One character fights exclusively with a bow, while another keeps solely to firearms.  My personal favorite is any scene involving Toyohisa.  His fight scenes are so impressive with his character’s almost crazy tenacity for battle.  Toyohisa jumps all over the place and actually manages to be quite cunning despite his rather straightforward plan of attack at times.  The animation for this series is its strongest point.

As for the sound design, Drifters also excels.  The voice acting is a bit over the top at points, but given the tone of the series, this level of acting works very well.  The music is also solid, especially during the action scenes.  My personal favorite piece of music is the catchy opening.  The opening is just filled with so much energy that it is the perfect way to being each episode of the series.  Overall, the presentation and sound design of Drifters is great.

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Final Thoughts

Drifters was one of the best shows of the season.  The show captured the perfect mix of action and comedy.  It will be a long time before the next season, but the manga is still ongoing.  I give Drifters my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  I cannot wait for the next season.  Thanks for checking this piece out and I’ll be back next week for another review.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Series Review – New Game

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Doga Koba

I am not a fan of slice-of-life shows.  I prefer something with a solid plot and hopefully some action.  However, I did fall in love with one of these shows in the summer season.  New Game focused on a group of cute girls working on a video game and the antics of this group were highly entertaining to watch.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

Aoba Suzukaze is a recent high school graduate that has just been hired by a local video game developer named Eagle Jump, as a part of the art department.  She is a very big fan of the game series known as Fairies Story and it turns out her superior at the company was the character designer for this video game series.  As Aoba learns the ropes, she becomes acquainted with the female employees at Eagle Jump and they get into all sorts of wacky shenanigans.

This series will inevitably get compared to Shirobako.  However, while it does go into some game design basics, it never goes into the same level of detail as Shirobako.  Problems with development are addressed, but they are not the main focus of the series.  New Game focuses solely on the characters.  From Rin’s habit of sleeping in her underwear to Hifumi’s love of her pet hedgehog, each character has their own interesting quirk that makes for a highly enjoyable comedy series.  At the basic level this is a show about cute girls just having a good time.  As a result, it is mostly comedic in nature.  Luckily, the show is great at putting the characters into situations where comedy can arise.  For instance, a lot of comedy arises at seeing the characters attend an after work drinking session.  It’s moments like these that showcase the charm of this series, which makes for a great watch.

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Animation and Sound  

The animation matches the comedic nature of the series with its bright aesthetic.  Each frame of animation carries the cheery tone of the series perfectly.  The animation quality is actually really high for a slice-of-life series.  There are several moments where I was actually amazed at the animation quality.  These moments managed to surpass the typical laziness that I usually associate with this genre.  The character design is one of the strongest aspects of the series.  Each character has a striking design and multiple outfits that they wear throughout the series.  For instance, Rin usually is in jeans, but will move to a skirt in a variety of episodes.  It can get tiring seeing the same outfit over and over again and the changing wardrobe in this show was refreshing.  Based on my earlier comments, it’s quite apparent that I really enjoyed Hifumi’s character.  The animation along with her interesting character design captures her shy personality to perfection.

The sound design isn’t really anything special though.  The opening and ending songs are rather generic and the series itself does not have any memorable music either.  As for the voice acting, each member of the cast does an excellent job, but the nature of some characters is generic as well.  There’s the hyperactive one, the serious one, and the shy one.  There’s nothing bad about these performances, it’s just that there is nothing that really makes them stand out compared to the glut of shows in this genre.  The sound design is the weakest part of the series.

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Final Thoughts

New Game was an absolute delight to watch.  I was highly entertained by the quirky cast of characters.  In a season with some rather heavy shows, New Game was the perfect way to just relax and have a laugh.  I give New Game my Watch rating.  It’s not a perfect show, but I can simply describe it as fun, which makes it worth a watch.  Thanks for checking this piece out and come back next week for another review.

Watch Rating